Addressing misinformation and rumours about vaccines in your community
Verify before you amplify
We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.
A lot of rumours have been circulating in relation to the new COVID-19 vaccines, both in Ghana and around the world. Such rumours can engender fear, ambivalence and can set back the progress made against combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some tips on how to respond to misinformation:
- Do not scare, humiliate or accuse other person even if you do not agree with him or her. Although you may be right, a feeling of resentment can evoke angry responses from your friends or family members.
- Don’t focus on the negative examples from other people because it may lead to its adoption. People tend to act as others do - ‘if others are not doing it, why shouldn't I?’, ‘If others do this, so can I’.
- Don’t persuade people that their viewpoints are wrong. Efforts to debunk deeply rooted myths is not only ineffective but may re-enforce these misconceptions. By highlighting some relevant examples, you allow your friends the opportunity to change their position without losing confidence,
- Don’t repeat myths. People often memorize inaccurate information, so it makes sense not to debunk myths, but rather to create a different storyline. Respond to myths with simple and catchy facts,
- Correct misconceptions while acknowledging that you understand people's confusion and feelings - “I understand your confusion but I would like to encourage you to rely on reputable and authoritative sources of information, such as our health care workers and public health officials. Let's listen to them, make informed choices and stay up to date."
- Highlight example of others - “A lot of countries have successfully started vaccination against COVID-19 and the number of severe COVID-19 cases has decreased. let's protect ourselves as others did”.
- Share stories and examples of yourself and other people you know that suffered from COVID-19 complications - “COVID-19 can cause severe complications, may require hospitalization or even be deadly. Vaccination can protect you from the lethal consequences of the disease”.
- Be empathetic and emphasise the fact that it is a shared interest of all to overcome the pandemic – “It is easier to prevent the virus than to treat it. Get vaccinated before it is too late”.